Grub Scout: Sweet P's entrees smoke the competition

Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House

  • Food: ****1/2
  • Service: ***1/2
  • Atmosphere: ***1/2
  • Overall: ****
  • Address: 3725 Maryville Pike
  • Phone: 865-247-7748
  • Hours: 11 a.m-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; noon-7 p.m. Sundays
  • Seating: First come, first served
  • Beer service only

Here’s another one I can add to my list of locations that I’ve visited multiple times over the years. The restaurant at Willow Point Marina in South Knox County was probably best known as Kiger’s for years, and I seem to recall visiting a place called Captain Jack’s there a few years ago as well.

Now it’s Sweet P’s, home of both barbecue and live music, which includes soul and bluegrass. The Grub Spouse had some time off on a recent gorgeous weekday, so we made the most of it with a barbecue lunch near the lake.

The facility itself looks essentially the same as it has for years — a two-level interior dining area complemented by patio seating. The heavy wood motif and bar trappings still give the place a roadhouse feel.

The brief menu is enticingly to the point. The meats are all cooked on the outdoor smoker and include dry-rubbed St. Louis-style pork ribs, beef brisket, smoked chicken breasts, pulled chicken, chicken wings and chopped pork. There is also a handful of salads, and staples like mac and cheese, mixed beans, cole slaw, potato salad and green beans make up the side selections.

There are also daily specials (burgers and barbecue nachos, quesadillas and burritos), and I took them up on one in particular that sounded intriguing — the smoked meatloaf. I’d never heard of such a thing, and since it came with two sides for around $7, I decided to give it a whirl, going with the beans and potato salad.

The Spouse got a half-rack of ribs with mac and cheese, and we added a chopped pork sandwich, primarily to compare apples to apples with other barbecue places.

And I can say that Sweet P’s compared very favorably. The hearty smoked ribs were among some of the best I’ve sampled in these parts, and the smoked meatloaf — a beef and pork blend — is a must-eat for any barbecue lover. The portion was average in size, but the barbecue-embellished flavor more than made up for it.

The biggest surprise to me was the chopped pork. So often, I find that even some of the better barbecue houses serve chopped/pulled pork that’s on the dry side, but this was some of the most tasty and succulent I’ve ever had. Sweet P’s homemade sauces were a fine enhancement, but this ‘cue stands strong on its own.

We found the sides to be average overall. The bean mix was the best of the three, followed by the mac and cheese and the potato salad, which I found to be almost bland flavorwise.

But all was atoned for when we tried their banana pudding for dessert. In retrospect, I wish we hadn’t gone halvsies, because the pudding was killer, with just the right balance of pudding, bananas and crust.

We spent less than $30 for a barbecue megafeast that would definitely bring me back to Willow Point, although I sure hope Sweet P’s becomes a permanent resident.

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